In a busy week between Christmas and New Year’s, the Escalon varsity and JV Lady Cougars basketball teams were both in action. Each found success, coming away with some hard fought victories.
“We took third in the West Coast Jamboree Quartz Division hosted at Alhambra High in Martinez,” said varsity head coach Joseph Dalpogetti.
The girls opened up the tournament on Wednesday, Dec. 28 with a win over Emery High School, 39-25. Leading the team in scoring were Shelby McCune with 17, followed by Priscilla Nowling with seven.
“Emery was an athletic team, but we were able to control the tempo and slow it down. We were up by as many as 20 in the second half,” said Dalpogetti.
In round two, the girls played Cheyenne High School from Las Vegas, NV.
“They were coming off a huge 40-point win over Vallejo the night before. I think a lot of people expected the game to be over from the tip, but we knew we could play with them,” Dalpogetti said. “We did a great job of controlling the tempo and there were about five to six lead changes in the half with neither team getting up more than a few points until just before the half. We were able to keep it close down the stretch but every time we threatened they answered.”
Escalon took the loss, but Dalpogetti said they played very hard and well against a bigger, stronger, and faster team.
“I think we earned the respect of the entire gym during that game,” the coach added.
Alyssa Strock had 11 points, followed by Jenelle Anderson with eight.
“Natalie Gonzalez had a stellar performance handling the pressure and controlling the tempo, she also chipped in seven points,” Dalpogetti said.
The final day of the tournament the varsity girls beat Kennedy of Richmond, CA for third place 43-35, leading from start to finish.
“We were up by as many as 15 in the second half. They tried to press and run but again we did a good job of slowing the game down and taking advantage of our opportunities against the press and traps,” said Dalpogetti. “Shelby McCune led us in scoring with 16 followed by Haley Boyd with 10; including a pair of three-pointers. Jenelle Anderson and Shelby McCune were named to the All-Tournament Team. Natalie Gonzalez had a strong tournament as well. She did all the little things that go unnoticed by most but are crucial to a team’s success.”
The West Coast Jamboree is a long drive, added the coach, but said it definitely was worth the travel time.
“It’s so great for us to expose ourselves to that style and brand of basketball that we just don’t see out here,” he explained. “Facing that competition is going to benefit us when it comes to league. Of our five losses, those teams have a combined record of 45-14.”
The girls Trans-Valley League season was slated to begin Tuesday as they hosted Riverbank, after The Times went to press. The girls are at home again on Thursday, hosting Ripon with the JV game at 6 p.m., varsity at 7:30 p.m.
“We are excited for the league and we know we are up to the challenge this year,” Dalpogetti said.
A holiday week trip to nearby Ripon for the Ripon Tournament also saw the JV girls come home with a third place plaque.
“We played Tokay on Wednesday night,” said coach Tom O’Hare. “Score was 28-18, a Cougars win.”
Alexa Gomez had 13, followed by Hannah Boyd with seven and Leila Phillips with six.
The JV girls then played Ripon High on Thursday night and lost to the tournament host school, 24-6. Only two players got on the board, Gomez with four points and Boyd with two.
“Friday night we won 22-20 against Ceres. Alexa Gomez had 10. Leila Phillips had five and Hannah Boyd had three,” O’Hare said of coming back the final night to get the third place honor.